July 4 I Monday
“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed…”
When we look into the life of the prophet Daniel, we will encounter one of the most honest and vulnerable prayers before God in Scripture. It was when Darius was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans that Daniel remembered the words of Jeremiah as he saw the state of his people and interceded on their behalf. From Daniel’s prayer, we can take note of four things when we pray.
Firstly, Daniel begins his prayer with “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Daniel 9:4). The Hebrew word Daniel uses for “love” in his prayer is hesed, which is a precious word in Scripture reserved for the love God expresses to His covenant people. A word that is often-times translated as “loving-kindness” in the Psalms represents a faithful love despite the faithlessness that it is met with, as well as a love that is steady, persistent and refuses to let go of the other. We find Daniel making an appeal to this covenant-making God whose hesed never fails.
Secondly, Daniel addresses God seven times throughout his prayer using the personal name of God that was given to Moses—Yahweh. This is because Daniel was not praying to a God who is distant but One who is near and dear to the people He loves. Thirdly, Daniel does not hold back in his repentance. In fact, Daniel uses the most extreme Hebrew language when describing the state of their fallen behaviour. “We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from Your commands and laws. We have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land” (Daniel 9:5-6). Daniel lays it all on the line before God, acknowledging all of their rebellion and wicked ways and does not hesitate to include himself among them.
Fourthly, Daniel understands the character of the God he is praying to. “We do not make requests of You because we are righteous, but because of Your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act!” (Daniel 9:18-19). Daniel knows the merciful God who not only hears his prayers but is also ready to act.
Daniel’s prayer serves as an example for us when we pray to God who is loving, near to us and merciful. He is ready to forgive us of our sins when we honestly repent and turn from it. Have we spent time being honest with the Lord in prayer today?
Prayer: Dear Yahweh, I am a sinner and so undeserving of Your covenantal love and mercy towards me. Thank You for forgiving me of my sins. Praise You!